August 4th 2013
I have been away from Purple Silver for some time – I think only one session past. I have been away from many other commitments – my Naijastories account can testify too. Oh well! Decided to change that a bit…
18:30 After a hectic day, and holding a planning meeting same place as the venue for the Purple Silver reading, clients, a partner and friends turned into the participants. The transformation is usually like that. We meet and we are talking one thing or the other, throwing yabs (friendly jest that is), attacking our writings or something – a general ambiance of fun and then ‘Start.’ The place is rearranged, the chairs are put in three rows for an audience and one kept in front for the anchor and/or reader… So, it was ‘Start.’
By some sort of general agreement (imposition if you like), the die for anchoring was thrown at me. It seemed like everyone had forgotten the ‘You look tired’ ‘You look like you haven’t slept in a while’ ‘You should rest more’ that had come from different angles. Well, not as if they had been wrong in the first place. To think I was seriously thinking of how much they cared and considering leaving to rest…
Well, I got to the front seat and begged everyone to fill the front seats (what is it with people and taking back seats leaving empty ones in front of them?) We did our introductions and the floor was open to throw suggestions for a topic to be discussed. Sesugh Stephen suggested that we talk about ‘House Boy/House Girl: The Preferred Choice’. I brought other suggestions from Reward Nsirim’s latest offering of amazing short stories, Fresh Air, Chimamanda to ElNathan John ( :) ) to Literary Intrigues, the recent Sabon Gari bombing, registration of APC (which I think might make Nigeria become PDP Team A and Team B – but that’s for a different day) and others… They enjoyed the reeling of other current events in the literary world and here then, threw all of them away and spoke on ‘House Boy/House Girl: The Preferred Choice’ There were several talks with most people agreeing that the idea of bringing people from the village as helps wasn’t nice. Most of the helps brought from the villages were maltreated and ended up being worse than when they were brought to town. These ‘helps’ also do evils to children defiling them, and things of the sort. There were suggestions of people hiring professional helps instead of ‘importing these helps’. At this point, I felt like we were digressing so I called us to order. ‘Okay, if you have to employ, who would you take? Man or woman.’ It was mostly ‘Woman’ for one reason or the other. Hilary Oklobia caused a laugh when he said his major condition for employment would be the person (a woman specifically) being from Calabar as ‘they know how to cook very well’. Mmmhmm. Sesugh Stephen said he would prefer men/boys as males are less likely to fall into temptation citing the example of Joseph and Hagai in the Bible. There were objections and agreements. David Oklobia took the last shot saying it could swing anyway. Women can defile little children or take the husband or a male help do the same and take Madam. HE told the story of a man in Kano who kept tickling (jakulili) the privates of the little daughter of his host telling her it was a game till one day, she innocently decided to play with him in front of her parents. The man tickled the ribs and all but the little girl would have none of that and pulled her clothes insisting that she wanted the play. You can imagine the reaction of the parents!
In summary, I rounded saying it could swing in any direction and one couldn’t be too careful. Best thing is to train one’s children to be self sufficient and do all the work they can. Shikena!
The readings commenced with a poem, ‘The Golden Prize of Sweat’ from Kenneth Apine. We diced it well and he took his bow after a clap. Sesugh Stephen sang a song next, his first love song ‘Beauty’. Sesugh sings a cool blend of Tiv and English. Not once, he has left us smiling and jamming our hands, the only words on our lips that of praise. ‘Beauty’ wasn’t it and almost everyone had something to say. ‘It sang too much like a chorus.’ ‘It could have been better’… Mercy Ugwu, critic and of course, a lady, told Sesugh to cool down on the rap at the beginning of the song ‘You would keep running your mouth while the woman would walk away and leave you’… Okay o! Well, there were many other suggestions and I am sure our musician would think of going back to those other ‘non-love’ songs :) …
We had Hilary Oklobia read for us next. He read ‘A Year Ago’, a short poem written extempore and edited as he read. The poem talks of a lady that the persona met a year ago that left him wowed till a day ago, when she left him broken. That last line got to me. The contrast was really worth it. I thought I would have a jab at Hilary, but it seemed it wasn’t meant to be today. Well, the poem as it is didn’t tally with the poem he had sent to Anselm Ngutsav and Stephen Aba (members of the audience and part of the Purple Silver crew) a few minutes before the event. They made it known and he said he had edited it shortly before presentation. Mercy Ugwu said she had seen him do the writing there. She was impressed as most of us. We couldn’t talk much about the poem because every critical point was acknowledged to have been reworked by Hilary (or so he said) on the phone. WE sentenced him to writing a different poem, and bringing copies so we criticize and not have him dodge with the ‘I have done it on the phone’ :) He took a bow too, and to deep applause.
Igwe Ogwu sang a song ‘It doesn’t matter’ (very different from Akon’s ‘Don’t Matter‘) which he acknowledged was meant to be a bribe so we wouldn’t criticize him too much. His voice was arresting and the song had some good parts but in the end, it was such as would pick you and then leave you when you were there… Debbie Iorliam mentioned this later. After his song, I immediately queried that Igwe could have had us join him. The song was such that we could have clapped too. I mentioned that he could have compelled us to stand and do some shakey-to-shakey (with demonstrations that had the people laugh! Can they dance? Mtchhhheeeew! Jealousy :) Hee hee hee). Anselm picked a flaw in the content of the song alongside Stephen. They let it slide when Igwe said the song was extempore. Kenneth Apine was full of praise. It seems the part of the song directed at him as part of the singer’s bribe sure got to him! We asked Igwe to come with a fresh song that he was sure of and perform so we could properly analyse and appreciate him (What is it with these excuses self: Hilary with his phone trick and Igwe with the ‘Extempore’… Hmmm. Well, there’s next Saturday).
The last presentation was from Stephen Aba ‘Oner: The Patriot’, a deep poem on integration and togetherness in a collectively beautiful Nigeria. By the time he was through, or even before, he started another extempore song ‘Have mercy on me’ dedicated to the critics! Well, his song had only one line and the line was the title. Mmhmm… We picked a few issues and discovered that the poet had created a beauty in one line using ‘Little Timbuktu’ without realizing it. He smiled at the knowledge and said it only added to his former representation. A few more checks and praise, and even Stephen was through.
It was time for announcements: Anselm spoke about Stephen’s book, Live to Laugh another day (a collection of poetry)’s launch coming on September 5th, 2013. Dike Chukwumerije, notable one time ALS Poetry Slam Champion, spoken word maestro and writer would be Purple Silver guest on Saturday 17th August, 2013. He would be reading from his novel, Urichindere and performing. There would also be a Jazz night soon. Purple Silver is a poetry/literary/musical group that has its Open Mic session every Saturday at the popular impressive Symbols Complex, here in Makurdi, Benue State. You can register and get several benefits or simply just keep attending at no charge.
It was time for me to close the readings. Now, I really wonder what they were expecting me to say. Well, ‘Ladies and gentlemen, it’s been a lovely evening. By the powers conferred in me over everything here (and all of you), I declare this reading closed. Be careful not to take that which you didn’t bring’